The network and the damage done

Wed, 30/05/2012 - 17:21 -- nick

This is one of Richmond Solutions' excellent blogs on jobsearch and CV writing. It sets out an ideal version of a jobsearch process, including a new testing and record keeping idea which may be useful but is unlikely to be a reality for a very long time, if ever. So what can UnemployedNet's users learn from it? Well, the question of who the best person for a job is should be of interest to us; sometimes we come across a job that really fits our skills and experience, and we should put every effort in to applying for it when it comes.

'Heidi has just written an excellent blog post on the importance of exploiting your networks in a job hunt.  She’s right.  It works for individuals. But what about the country?

Let’s be honest.  It’s hardly fair and scientific is it?  Look at this as a problem of the maximum possible exploitation of the natural talent of this country for its economy and social sector.

My main problem with using networks to fill roles is it starts the recruitment process from “who do you know?”, or at best “who does this recruitment company know?"

What if we asked the question, “there are more than 20 million people in the UK labour force and one of them is going to be better than anyone else for this post. Who are they?”

Our entire recruitment methodology is based in the middle of the last century at the very latest.  Yes, some use tests and it’s moving online and social media is coming and so on  but it’s really just a bit of inlay to the Morris Oxford technology we use to staff our businesses, hospitals and just about everywhere else.

So, what would the ideal look like?

Well, firstly it would be shaped nationally by a proper process of research and national consultation, not by one blogging businessman.  I don’t assume I know all the answers.  But my submission to any commission considering this would, in summary, look like a bit like this.

We need to create a National Talent Management Service (NTMS for short).  The mission of the NTMS will be to ensure that the sum of the skills, experiences and aptitudes of the British people is deployed to the maximum possible effect, through research, analysis, a national and universal system of scientifically developed talent management and constant liaison with both business and social sector employers.

NTMS aptitude testing should be a part of the system from a very young age.  If the tools do not exist we should invent them, and then keep re-inventing them.  The data needs to be stored, but not centrally.  It needs to be owned by everyone who is tested (or their parents if too young) but verifiable to avoid fraud.  Rather than just testing for academic ability and knowledge, or even for some low level skills, we need to be assessing leadership ability, personality, analytical ability and on so on.

This information will be invaluable as people grow-up and they have to make choices about what to do, and indeed we as a society make choices about where to invest.  No longer will a medic’s child be able to by-pass the system and leap frog over fundamentally more appropriate people from other backgrounds to get into medical school.

As someone grows in their career the tests need to be repeated, and obviously become of greater sophistication.  Certainly at some point hard skills need to be taken into account (you’re either a water or waste engineer or you are not) but that always has to be cross referenced with the other analysis of your wider set of abilities, and your personality.  It’s a bit like an annual health check, but hopefully far more useful.

What use can be made of this data?  Companies and other organisations will essentially have two choices about how they use the system.  Firstly, they could, as now, have a specific role and ask for people to submit their NTMS information.  Obviously that would provide the starting point for a recruitment process, but one that necessary legislation will make a lot more scientific and less impressionistic than it currently is, based as it will be on vast information recorded in context over many years.

However, probably the better use would be to use it strategically.  Companies could call for people to submit their NTMS information years before there is any specific need so they can see the kinds of skills, personalities and aptitudes the labour force is germinating, and consider how they can better exploit them. 

David Welsh (with apologies to Neil Young)